Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French degré, from Vulgar Latin *degradus, from Latin de- + gradus
Date: 13th century
1. a step or stage in a process, course, or order of classification <advanced by degrees> 2. a. a rank or grade of official, ecclesiastical, or social position <people of low degree> b. archaic a particular standing especially as to dignity or worth c. the civil condition or status of a person 3. a step in a direct line of descent or in the line of ascent to a common ancestor 4. a. obsolete step, stair b. archaic a member of a series arranged in steps 5. a measure of damage to tissue caused by injury or disease — compare first-degree burn, second-degree burn, third-degree burn 6. a. the extent, measure, or scope of an action, condition, or relation <different in degree but not in kind> b. relative intensity <a high degree of stress> c. one of the forms or sets of forms used in the comparison of an adjective or adverb d. a legal measure of guilt or negligence <found guilty of robbery in the first degree> 7. a. a title conferred on students by a college, university, or professional school on completion of a program of study b. a grade of membership attained in a ritualistic order or society c. an academic title conferred to honor distinguished achievement or service d. the formal ceremonies observed in the conferral of such a distinction 8. a unit of measure for angles equal to an angle with its vertex at the center of a circle and its sides cutting off 1/360 of the circumference; also a unit of measure for arcs of a circle equal to the amount of arc that subtends a central angle of one degree 9. archaic a position or space on the earth or in the heavens as measured by degrees of latitude 10. a. a step, note, or tone of a musical scale b. a line or space of the musical staff 11. one of the divisions or intervals marked on a scale of a measuring instrument; specifically any of various units for measuring temperature 12. a. the sum of the exponents of the variables in the term of highest degree in a polynomial, polynomial function, or polynomial equation b. the sum of the exponents of the variable factors of a monomial c. the greatest power of the derivative of highest order in a differential equation after the equation has been rationalized and cleared of fractions with respect to the derivative • degreed adjective
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.